Ubud is a magical place. In the uplands of Bali it is a cornucopia of terraced rice fields and tropical jungle. Just by the village of Sayan in Ubud lies the Four Seasons resort cradled by the rainforest.

Architecturally, the resort was inspired by the Balinese ricebowl. Like the ricebowl, beginning at the top, layers reveal themselves till the lowest layer of the property meets the sacred Ayung River that meanders through it. Suspended in the air, so it can make eye contact with tree tops, is a footbridge – it symbolizes the chopsticks that lie astride the rice bowl. A walk over the footbridge takes you to the hotel lobby and to a magical Lotus pond ‘in the air’.

Photo Credits: travelforsenses.com
Photo Credits: aroma.com

It is a villa only resort where each villa conjures the feel of being nestled by the rainforest; of being fed, soul-fed by it – by the sight of dense, vibrant greenery and the sound of jungle creatures. Beyond every villa’s private pool the ‘garden’ leads into tropical jungle according guests complete privacy in the embrace of a ‘one of its kind’ experience of nature. The attention to detail in the ‘nurture’ visible throughout the villa was redolent of thoughtfulness. Healthy snacks like vegetable crisps and traditional rice crackers and stacks of indigenous tropical fruits like snake fruit, longan and mangosteen, always awaited returning guests. Come night fall, I had the comfort of my villa’s outdoor lounger from which to take in the flora lit ethereally by the waning moon. For company, I had the rare experience of jungle creatures coming alive in their ‘calls’. I learnt to decipher the fascinating calls of myriad types of frogs; and the calls of grasshoppers; crickets and cicaks among them.

Food at the resort is an artisanal celebration. Distinctive restaurants are dotted along the ‘rice bowl’ layers. The Sokasi, meaning rice basket, is an eatery with a mushroom shape and a chic, rustic sensibility. A culinary school by day, by night Sokasi lays out the most sumptuous Balinese seven course meals for a handful of guests. The food, some of it previously marinated, is then cooked ‘live’ for the guests. Simultaneous to cooking the Chef’s Table Dinner, as the culinary experience is titled, local flavors and indigenous cooking methods are celebrated.

Photo Credits: fourseasons.com
Photo Credits: bethanylooi.com

The Ayung Terrace, serving modern Indonesian delicacies, affords stunning views of the snaking River below and palm trees above. Perched prettily on a gorge, like a pretty bird on a low branch, it is a spot of heavenly calm. I loved my breakfasts there. One can order anything, and as much, from the a la carte breakfast menu. The breakfast menu is ‘haute couture food’ - popular local and western breakfast items are served up with a subtlety that accords them an artistic finesse.

Photo Credits: eggs florentine - leitesculinaria.com
Photo Credits: eggs benedict - cookingclassy.com

Dishes like Eggs Florentine and Egg Benedict were given makeovers and smoothie bowls were transformed into artwork in a bowl. While you are busy with your haute couture dishes a kaleidoscopic muffin platter does the rounds.

For high tea during the day or cocktails at night, Jati Bar is the place. River panoramas make it a beautiful place to unwind. The fourth resort eatery is the Riverside Café. It serves up local seafood and imported meats along the poolside. At lunchtime it has the options of vibrant salads.

Photo Credits: toursandtravel.com
Photo Credits: withlocals.com

White water rafting in the Ayung River; jungle trekking and the ‘Sacred Nap’ experience – lying in a silk cacoon, suspended from the roof of a hut presiding over a bird’s eye view of the resort, made my stay at the Four Seasons Bali, indelible.

The route of the Ayung; the perch of the trees; the earthy prettiness of the terraced rice fields; the smell of the tropical jungle air; the gentle smiles of the Four Seasons staff – embraced me such that it created a sensibility of belonging. Of being home.

Photo credits: Banners Left & Center - fourseasons.com; Banner Right – wingedboots.co.uk